An Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2014 Platinum & Gold Best Book Award Winner
In the forest, in the pond, in caves, prairies, and jungles, in all the world’s outdoor “classrooms,” baby animals are...learning! They are taking lessons on how to be an expert swimmer, alarm-sounder, racer-chaser, or hide-and-seeker. They don’t have books, or desks, or computers. But they do have teachers!
Twelve vignettes explore the kinds of “lessons” that various animal adults teach to their offspring. A kangaroo gives her joey “boxing lessons” so he can defend himself, an elephant mother models how to drink water, an orangutan shows her offspring how to stay dry in the rain, and a cheetah teaches her babies to run. Hudson’s graceful artwork offers a hint of anthropomorphic tenderness between the animal parents and children, while remaining naturalistic. Readers should especially enjoy prompts inviting them to compare their own behavior with that of the animals: “Do you yip? Can you bark? Or shout? Or yelp? How do you make yourself heard?”
Just like human children, animal babies from chicks to bear cubs learn lessons from adults around them.
Spread by spread, the conversational text of this instructive title presents skills a dozen different young animals have to learn and connects them to readers. Two paragraphs describe the learning task: finding what’s good to eat; learning to swim, defend, feed and shelter oneself; learning to recognize and make particular sounds. Questions to readers follow. “Who sings to you?” the narrator asks after presenting information on penguins. Some shared skills may surprise. It takes time for elephants to learn to use their trunks for drinking, just as it does for children to learn to drink from a water fountain. Great apes learn tool use: Chimps crack nuts with stones, and orangutans gather leafy branches for umbrellas. Hudson’s realistic pen-and-watercolor illustrations show animal parents and their child or children in their natural environments. (The leafy endpapers are less relevant, showing an unlikely collection of unmentioned though recognizable birds and a few animals, some placed so far toward the edges they will likely be hidden by the cover flaps.) A final spread offers two to four additional interesting facts about each of the creatures described.
Nicely connecting the child to the natural world, this would be a useful opener for a unit about animals as well as a title to share with young animal lovers.